Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Enjoying your own company

Loch Voil, in the valley where Dhanakosa is located
I was away for eight day at the end of July, beginning of August. I attended a retreat at the Dhanakosa Buddhist centre in Scotland. It was an amazing time for me as I was able to spend a lot of time in my own company. 

I know that, for a lot of people, the idea of spending time in your own company can actually be quite frightening. I know this because I used to really dislike being in my own company. I used to go through long periods of depression and for several years I suffered from an anxiety disorder. For anyone who has experienced depression or anxiety (Which is probably everyone reading this) the idea of spending time alone in your won head when either of these very strong emotions is running its course isn't just uncomfortable but potentially frightening and possibly even dangerous.

It took a lot of work and a lot of paying attention to what was going on for me to work through both of those things, but here I am! I've gone nearly two years without taking medication, loving who I am and being able to spend time with that person.

For me this retreat was a big step in that it meant I was going for my own growth and not to run away from anything. I am a firm believer in not running away from your problems. This is because you can't. The thing about your problems is that they belong to you and therefore, wherever you run, they will follow. But there can be exceptions to this rule. For example, if your problem is that you really want to go travelling but you can't seem to motivate yourself then running away is, in fact, solving a problem.

I want to talk about this problem of inaction because that's the sort of problem I help my clients solve. The problems that niggle and sit there but always seem easier to ignore than to deal with. First of all, ignoring something doesn't make it go away. In fact, ignoring something is usually a really good way to aggravate it to the point where you can't ignore it anymore.

Depression and anxiety are a good example of this. Depression begins in sadness and anxiety begins in fear. Both are natural emotions which must be expected in life. They are just things that happen and generally, they are there to tell us to pay attention. Sadness is asking us to pay attention to loss or a need not being met. Fear is telling us to prepare or plan for something.

Ignore them and they will become more urgent. They will grow in strength as they work to get you to pay attention to the issue at hand. The more you don't listen to them the louder they become and at their loudest they are no longer sadness and fear but depression and anxiety. Leave it even longer and they can become Clinical Depression and Panic Disorder or some other diagnosable mental illness.

Learning to enjoy your own company means learning to listen to these emotions as they arise. When we can pay attention to them from the start we can see what needs or wants are being neglected and rationally determine what is needed.

This retreat was great as it allowed me time and space to sit without distraction and reflect on the things which fulfill me. I was able to focus my energy, appreciate the amount of time in a day, and really analyse what I want to do in the coming months. It was also a chance for me to pay attention to some of my own little niggles which I've not given a chance to be heard.

Giving yourself time and space to be heard is important. No one else is going to do that for you though, so you need to give yourself the right setting and tools to go there. This isn't always easy, especially if you've not done it before or done it often. As a coach I believe in giving my clients the space they need to listen to their own dreams, hopes and wishes. Then, working together, make them a reality.
Want to help support Dhanakosa?
Buy an original FaunawolfCreations painting and 50% of the sale will be donated. 

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